Photo credit:Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports
Mitch Marner takes final stab at 100 as Leafs visit Rangers in regular season finale: Leafs Tailgate
By Nick Alberga10 months ago
At last, we’ve reached the culmination of an 82-game odyssey.
Next week, it starts for real.
But first, the regular season finale will go down tonight on Broadway as the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the New York Rangers in their final tune-up before the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Quite frankly, I’m expecting a no-hitter of sorts between two teams in full preparation mode for their respective first-round series. Of course, as we’ve known for quite some time now, Toronto will take on Tampa for the second straight season. Meantime, the Rangers, who are firmly locked into the three seed in the Metro Division, still don’t know who they’ll play. Depending on tonight’s results, it’ll be either Carolina or New Jersey.
Judging by the lines at the morning skate, it doesn’t look like John Tavares and Sam Lafferty will play tonight. Honestly, in a perfect world, Mitch Marner gets to 100 points, Auston Matthews scores his 300th career goal, William Nylander pots No. 40 and the Leafs win their 50th game of the season.
Toronto and New York have split their previous two meetings this season with the home team winning both times.
TIME: 7 PM ET (TSN)
TOR Joseph Woll – CONFIRMED (5-1-0, 2.19, 0.933)
NYR Jaroslav Halak – LIKELY (10-8-5, 2.71, 0.904, 1 SO)
FINAL DRESS REHEARSAL
Ideally, you want the perceived Game 1 roster – minus Ilya Samsonov – in place for this one, don’t you? Maybe I have it all wrong, but I think it would be beneficial to have one final run through before things get going for real next week. Maybe I’m reading too much into the rest versus rust conversation —who knows. At the very least, I think the goal here is for this team to be feeling the very best heading into the opener against the Lightning. Having said all that, if they feel resting some marquee pieces is the way to go, then so be it. No complaints – either way – here.
MARNER’S PURSUIT OF THE CENTURY MARK
He had 97 points last year, and now, he’ll enter game 82 sitting on 99. Manifesting the green light for Operation feed Mitch Marner tonight at all costs. Regardless of if he does it or not, the 25-year-old’s had an impeccable season to-date and I can’t wait to see what he has in store for the postseason. Sure, he’s chasing a personal milestone, but I do think it’s a big deal. In fact, in the illustrious history of this storied franchise, only three players have been able to hit the 100-point plateau (Darryl Sittler x 2, Auston Matthews, Doug Gilmour x 2). For my money, there’s nothing wrong with being selfish sometimes, especially when you’re looking to join elite company like that. Furthermore, this has that same type of feeling as last season and Auston Matthews’ pursuit of 60 goals. If I had to put money on it – which I probably will – I say Marner does it.
The term is well known in baseball circles, but tonight, it might translate to the hockey world if the Leafs and Rangers have their way. In short, I don’t expect much hitting or physicality for that matter. Everything’s mapped out for both sides, and quite frankly, the goal is to make it out of tonight’s game unscathed. I could be wrong, but it’s unlikely you’ll see anything close to what we witnessed in Tuesday night’s game in Tampa. Bet the over!
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